Have you ever spent an evening in watching CSI and wondered what it would take to become a forensic detective? Have you spent the last five or so years resenting your current career choice? Accepting dissatisfaction with your work can be like coming to terms with the end of a relationship. It’s not always easy to picture a new life in a completely new setting. However, nothing is impossible – particularly if you plan ahead. Whether you’re a single lady or responsible for children and a family, there are many ways in which you can jump into a completely different sector.
Before you quit your job and start looking elsewhere, you will need a substantial safety net. Even if you are a single woman living in a cheap studio flat, you should never live without a separate fund to back you up. Your money may be needed for a multitude of areas, too:
To cover the cost of studying: Do you have an option to pay for the course in instalments or will you need to pay the full amount upfront?
To cover the cost of day-to-day living: Will you need to take up part-time work or quit your job? If you think you will experience any form of deficit in your income, it is a wise idea to put away some savings to cover this.
To cover the cost of living after studying: Once you get your new degree, it may take you some time to find the job you want. Or, you may find a new job, but be on a substantially lower wage. Could you afford your current lifestyle after studying?
It’s worth considering all of these points before saving. It will determine how much you need to put away each month, and for how long you will need to do so. Of course, a low-interest credit card can cover the cost of small purchases every now and then, but it is not wise to rely on that method of payment. On top of that, you will need to ensure that you will be able to pay it back every month – and well above the minimum amount.
So, now that you have a rough idea of the budget you will need, how do you save a substantial amount?
Be a bit stricter: Using debit cards and apps that feedback your transactions to you every month can help you get a sense of what you are spending money on. These are incredibly popular in large, expensive cities and for a good reason; Monzo and Emma are perhaps the most famous at the moment. You transfer some of your earnings onto a debit card (with no extra charge), and the app will group your spending into categories, showing you what you mostly spend your cash on. We may see the odd coffee or trip to the cosmetics counter as a treat, but we may be treating ourselves far more than we actually realise. Instead, take a look at what your currently own, consider making coffee from home and try and be a little more frugal about your purchases.
Review your bills: Let’s be realistic; changing suppliers is not a fun task. Making it through to customer service, asking to change accounts and bargaining for a better price can be an arduous process. That said, it is sometimes well worth your patience and money to get it done. Staying with the same supplier for years on end may be useful for the odd loyalty perk, but it’s certainly not great for your monthly outgoings. For utilities such as gas, you may be spared an extra phone call. Your new provider should change the supply over for you and contact your old gas company on your behalf.
Create a standing-order: If you’re desperate to obtain the funds for a career change, but don’t have the discipline to save regularly, then this is an excellent way of putting away regular savings. It forces you to plan around the standing order each month, enabling you to make wiser decisions about your spending habits.
Choose a savings account: When it comes to savings accounts, you will need to make a decision: do you want an easy access saver or one that has more restrictions? As a rule, the harder it is to take money out of your account (harder in terms more penalties), the better the interest rates will be. These sometimes come with fixed periods, such as 1, 3, or 5 years fixed interest rates. If you don’t think you will be going into education for a while, you could benefit from a stricter bank account.
Full-time or part-time education?
If your career change feels like a big move because you spend your early adulthood in full-time education, don’t worry. While you may prefer to go into full-time education again, it’s not a road you necessarily have to go down. In fact, many degrees have online courses that allow you to complete coursework from your own home. For example, if you were interested in a career in law enforcement and wanted to study a criminology degree, you could easily do this around a full-time job. Many universities offer comprehensive online courses, which you can complete in the comfort of your own home.
Research your industry
The fantasy we have in our heads when aspiring to a different career path is often the biggest driver to change – and so it should be. There’s no reason why we should lose our imagination as we progress through adulthood. However, it’s important also to get a true sense of what careers lay ahead of you. For example, if you did take up a degree in criminology and law enforcement, you would want to get a sense of what job you could walk into. If you wanted to work in social services or as a community officer, you would want to look at jobs going in your local area. You should also see if there is a specialism you are interested in. Narrowing your focus in any field can be incredibly useful for not just your own job satisfaction, but also your career progression.
Who do you know?
If there’s one way to make researching your new career path easier, it’s talking to someone from that profession. Who could you chat to who’s in that sector? If you don’t know anyone in your immediate circle, chat to friends and family to see if they have any mutual acquaintances. Meeting up for coffee with someone from that industry gives you not only some real, first-hand insight but also an opportunity to show your enthusiasm. While this person might not be able to get you a job, it is still a step closer to getting your foot in the door. Mentors are invaluable for giving you a sense of realism about what the job entails and maintaining your motivation. On top of that, a generous mentor might provide you with an opportunity to observe a day in the job. You’re never too old for work experience – and it’s also something to pop on your CV when you apply after your education.
Find your support network
The next few years or months could be incredibly challenging for you. While you may have your finances sorted, it can be hugely intimidating to start all over again, even if you can’t wait to get stuck into your new job. This is why a supportive network to encourage you every step of the way could prove invaluable. Not only will they be there to keep you on track, but also “hold you to account” throughout the process. It doesn’t matter whether you support comes in from of old colleagues, friends or your immediate family – you just need empathy and encouragement. That support network will really come into its own when you come to celebrate your graduation and new job – there’s nothing like popping a champagne bottle with your nearest and dearest.
Finally, but most importantly, make sure that you have the passion for keeping your new career burning. Don’t just jump into a new profession in the same way you’d try out a new hobby for size. Passion will keep you persevering during the tough nights of studying when you’re already tired and through the job rejections. If you aren’t truly passionate about your new career path, you may find yourself having to shell out for another job change later down the line.
A change in career is no easy feat – and so it’s important to be kind to yourself throughout the process. The planning you put into the initial steps of saving and research will bear fruit further down the line; you just have to believe in yourself. By being financially savvy and working out which method of education works best for you, you should be able to make the process as comfortable as possible. Having your loved ones to cheer you on as you cross the final hurdles will be the cherry on top of your change in profession.